Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar does not want to predict whether his seemingly unconquerable record of 100 international centuries would ever be broken but the iconic cricketer hopes that as and when it happens, the feat is accomplished by a fellow Indian.
In a wide-ranging interaction with the media, the 38-year-old Tendulkar also said that he does not intend to retire anytime soon no matter what the critics have to say.
"I don`t know. I guess all the records are meant to be broken but I hope it`s an Indian. I don`t think you can predict that (whether it will be surpassed) but I hope it`s an Indian whenever it happens," Tendulkar, who reached the milestone during the recent Asia Cup, told reporters here.
"I feel that when I retire is something that I would decide because when I started was not decided by someone else. Those who are advising me about retirement did not bring me in the team.
"I get my strength from my coaches and family. When I feel I don`t have that, on that day, I will think of retirement. I feel those who say you should retire at the top are selfish because when you are at the top, you should serve the country instead of retiring," he said.
India went on to lose the match, that too against Bangladesh, in which Tendulkar got to the feat and he said the disappointment meant that the celebrations were muted.
"I don`t think that we are celebrating that one match. Where I am right now took 23 years and not one match. I feel the result was very important. It was very disappointing. The day I got the hundred there was no celebration," he recalled.
For a player who has virtually every batting record that is there to be taken, Tendulkar said the biggest compliment for him was when the legendary Sir Don Bradman included him in his all-time Test XI.
"I think the best compliment was from Sir Don Bradman when he announced his all-time Test XI and I was part of that squad. That would be the best compliment," he said.
Talking about his journey so far, Tendulkar, the highest run-getter in both Tests and one-dayers, said his late father Ramesh Tendulkar was his idol growing up.
"My hero is my father because he is the one with whom everything started in my life. I follow my father. In cricket, even whose who haven`t scored a hundred were advising me but as long as it was in good intention, it was fine," he said.
When asked about India`s early exit from the Asia Cup, Tendulkar said credit should also go to the rivals who played better than them.
"All three teams won two matches, it eventually boiled down to who beat whom. I want to clarify that Bangladesh are a good team and played well in all the four matches. The rival teams also come to win. Sometimes you play well but the other team plays better," he explained.
The diminutive right-hander said he does not have to prove anything now and would continue as long as he enjoys the game.
"I don`t think I need to prove anything right now. I started playing this game because I loved it, I enjoy it. The passion for cricket was there. The dream was to play for India and win the World Cup, I don`t think anything can be bigger than that," he said.
"I can`t think of milestones. I have been able to play for India and win the World Cup. I don`t know what is in store for me but my focus would be to just enjoy the game. I don`t want to focus on what I have to achieve because I have already achieved what I wanted," he added.
Tendulkar also detailed the one year barren spell during which he got into 70s and 80s but somehow missed out on hundreds.
"At the time of the World Cup when I got to 99 hundreds, no one was discussing about my 100th hundred because the focus was on the World Cup. But after the World Cup, the media built on it and started asking. I was only focused on playing cricket like always. I just wanted to score runs," he recalled.
"But as time went by, people who were listening to the media, those people, excluding my friends and family, would wish me about the 100th hundred. But I felt cricket should be the focus and that is what I kept telling myself," Tendulkar said.
"I can say that from a cricketing point of view, it was a tough phase because the good wishes were not stopping. Now, at least they won`t pray for my 100th ton and my ears will get some rest," he joked.
"I can`t complain about all these good wishes."
Talking about his own form in this one year, Tendulkar said, "I can say that there were patches when I didn`t bat well, there were patches when I felt that I batted my best. I felt that sometimes you need luck to be on your side."
"Sometimes that luck factor was missing because as far as preparations were concerned, my commitment and passion was in place. I scored 100 out of 100 on that. But you don`t always achieve the results that you dream of," he said.
"Something that is more important is not to lose hope. I did not lose hope, I continued trying my best. Here I only waited for a year but for the World Cup I waited for 22 years and it happened."
Tendulkar said being a celebrity, his struggles hogged the limelight even though every individual goes through tough times.
"There are going to be rough phases in life. I don`t think there is anyone who hasn`t experienced rough phases but they are personal. But because we are public figures, our rough phases are on camera. But I didn`t lose faith in my ability and that is what has allowed me to be where I am."
Asked to assess himself, Tendulkar said he would leave that job to his fans and critics.
"I can`t judge myself but definitely there was a dream to be regarded as one of the top players to have played the game. To be in that league that was my dream. I wanted to be right at the top or to be there in that group and I feel I am there but if you ask me to judge myself, I can`t do that. That`s for others to say," he said.
Asked to compare the pressure he felt at the time of his debut hundred and the 100th hundred, Tendulkar said it is incomparable.
"I think in 94` when I did a press conference, even half of the journalists present right now were not there. There were few expectations. Today the expectations are a lot more. Even if I score 70-80, it is a disappointment like in Delhi last year against the West Indies.
"It`s about how you look at things. My first century and this one can`t be compared because expectations are different," he said.
Like him, the Indian team has also gone through a tough phase since winning the World Cup in April last year. Tendulkar said the key to recovery lies in not losing hope.
"Wherever we go, we want to win. When you lose the number one ranking, it means someone is playing better cricket than you, you need to perform better and win. That is what we go out for. At no stage should we lose hope. It is a rough patch but we can overcome that obstacle, we require hard work and we will do that," he said.
"I think our team has had a few injuries. During the England tour, we suffered because of injuries. I don`t want to give excuses because whoever plays, he is expected to do well. I can`t pinpoint reasons but we can get better.
"I don`t know how to put it across. I don`t think you can find solutions in 3-4 sentences. It is a process. When we became number one, it was a process and we will have to repeat that," he added.
Talking about the state of the game in general, Tendulkar said Test cricket should remain the pinnacle.
"There has to be more importance to Test cricket. This format is very challenging for which you need planning. You need to play at a different pace at different times. If you ask any player, most would tell you that Tests have to be number one and I have no different opinion," he said.
First Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 18:47